DOE finishes demolition of Biology Complex at Y-12 site

June 11, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Demolition of the last of 11 structures at the former Y-12 Biology Complex at Oak Ridge was completed in June, and the removal of the building’s slab foundation is scheduled to be completed this fall. (Photo: DOE)

Crews with the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) have completed the demolition of Building 9207, the largest and final building at the former Biology Complex at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the DOE announced this week. Removal of the massive six-story, 255,000-square-foot building ushers in a new chapter of transformation at Y-12, the DOE said.

The Biology Complex, which dates back to the 1940s, was initially constructed for recovering uranium from process streams, and was later used for research into genetics and the effects of radiation. The complex’s 11 facilities once housed more individuals with doctorates than anywhere else in the world, according to the DOE.

Demolition of the complex is part of the department’s efforts to reduce its inventory of obsolete, high-risk buildings at Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, opening the land for future research and national security missions. The cleared 18-acre footprint where the former Biology Complex once stood is the planned location for a lithium processing facility run by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

They said it: “This is the most significant skyline change we’ve achieved at Y-12 as we begin our new chapter of cleanup,” said Jay Mullis, EM Oak Ridge Office manager. “It highlights the transformative nature of our work, and now these experienced teams will move to other projects that address other vacant, deteriorated Manhattan Project and Cold War–era facilities at the site.”

NNSA production office manager Teresa Robbins said, “Clearing this site and making it available for development is an important step forward in our modernization plans. Being able to relocate our lithium processing to this new site will greatly benefit site operations and reduce risks associated with the aging structure where operations are currently located.”

Next steps: With the last of the Biology Complex buildings demolished, the DOE and its site cleanup contractor, UCOR, are working to remove the buildings’ concrete slab foundations, a job slated to be completed this fall. Removal of the foundations marks the final step before the land is available for reuse by the NNSA

The DOE and UCOR have numerous deactivation projects underway, preparing for the next wave of demolitions at Y-12, the department said. Crews are performing work at Alpha-2, Beta-1, the Old Steam Plant, and the Old Criticality Experiment Laboratory. Early preparation activities are also underway at Alpha-4.

Dan Macias, UCOR’s Oak Ridge Reservation environmental cleanup manager, said that the company is using much of the same skilled workforce and approaches that allowed it to complete the cleanup at the East Tennessee Technology Park four years ahead of schedule and significantly under budget.

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